Graduates at Cadogan Hall, a series of concerts to raise money for the ‘Acting for Others’ charitable fund, celebrates pandemic era graduates while helping theatre workers in times of need. It’s a worthy cause that’s united a fantastic array of talented singers to perform a series of vocal pieces over three nights.
Episode One, the first evening, jumps feet first into an exceptionally deep talent pool. Opening the show is Abel Law, signing ‘One Night Only’ from Dreamgirls. It’s a great choice for Law, who’s rich voice makes this a memorable interpretation. Law is followed by George Maddison, performing ‘She Cries’ from Songs for a New World. His charisma and talent make for an energetic performance, with a voice that certainly promises a big career. Karen Wilkinson is next with a pitch-perfect delivery, soaring through an emphatic and emotional ‘The Light in the Piazza.’ Her voice has a lovely classical feel to it which suits this Broadway musical number.
There’s something fresh about the voice of the next graduate, Jo Stephenson, and it’s the perfect match for ‘A Love That Will Last’ by Renee Olstead. The balance of strength and softness in her approach is captivating. Jay Worley is fully committed to the storytelling of ‘Finishing the Hat’ (from Sunday in the Park with George). It’s a strong performance, and his expressive and rich voice is laden with emotional range.
Aoife O’Dea’s poppy, jazzy, voice suits ‘Hadestown Medley,’ and it’s no mean feat to also play her own harp throughout, made even better by how much she’s clearly enjoying performing. Charlotte Jones is next with ‘All Falls Down’ (Chaplin) and she’s absolutely captivating. Her voice is outstanding, her range stunning, and her facial expressions are exquisite – she’s telling a story and delivering a powerhouse of a vocal performance. If there were an audience, they’d be begging for more – I know I sure am.
A subtle, but heartfelt delivery from Sam Rippon of ‘I’d Rather Be Sailing’ grows in delivery, and
Dean Makowski-Clayton’s take on ‘I believe’ (Book of Mormon) is a strong vocal performance interspersed with humor. He embodies the characterisation that comes along with this song – you’ll laugh and you’ll also appreciate his voice.
Alice Croft wins immediate points from this reviewer for her choice of ‘She Used to Be Mine’ from Waitress, an exceptionally delicate yet powerful ballad. Croft is charming and she does this song justice.
A clever choice of song is also on the cards with Lewis Snell doing an interpretation of the Etta James classic ‘I’d Rather Go Blind;’ his voice delivering ‘baby, baby, baby’ is soulful and rich. Millie Cranston’s soaring voice delivers a soaring and emotional version of ‘Heart of Stone’ (Six). Kyle Birch closes with a stunning rendition of ‘Home’ (The Wiz). His deep tones rise wonderfully to meet the notes. It’s an excellent way to round off an enjoyable evening.
Throughout the show, well-known faces from the theatre world fill interludes between songs with video messages to deliver congratulations and hope. They are sweet, poignant, and a lovely way to add a little visual diversion from the stage. The evening is hosted by the cheerful and likeable Grace Mouat, and musical direction and flawless piano playing is courtesy of Sam Young.
There’s so much talent on display in this series, and it’s so unfair to these incredible graduates that they haven’t been able to be in front of the audience that they deserve. For now, watching this show online is a fantastic use of your time – and all for a good, and deserving, cause.
Produced by: Ameena Hamid for Ameena Hamid Productions, Liam Gartland and Alice Croft for the Grad Fest
Graduates at Cadogan Hall Series consists of three separate performances and is available to watch on-demand at Encore Theatre until 11 April. All information, including booking details, can be found via the below link.